Meteora means “suspended in the air” and it is a truly magical spot for families to hike in north-central Greece among centuries-old monasteries. Each monastery defies the limits of ancient engineering (and gravity), clinging to the top of sandstone spires.
“We just finished three days in Meteora. Days surrounded by majestic pinnacles and spires of rock reaching for the heavens. Towering fingers and fists of conglomerate with delicate monasteries perched on top.” – Journal notes, May 2014
Reaching for the Heavens
Starting in the 11th century, monks began to settle onto the sandstone spires and caverns in and around Kastraki and Kalabaka, Greece. At its zenith, 24 monasteries were operational. Today, only six are active.
While the history itself is fascinating, for families who enjoy hiking, Meteora is a feast for the senses with well-trod hiking trails, beautiful views, and hidden treasures begging to be discovered.
While Kastraki is home to the six UNESCO-recognized monasteries, the entire area boasts remarkable rock formations and hidden gems.
How to Get There
Direct trains connect Kalabaka to Thessaloniki (roughly three hours) and Athens (roughly 5 hours).
Our jaws dropped on the taxi ride from the train station to our guesthouse (we stayed at Patavalis Rooms in Kastraki. With its spacious rooms, small onsite restaurant and large balcony with views of Meteora, it’s perfect for families with kids). Meteora is like a fairy tale, something from your imagination, come to life.
With two children three years and under along for the ride, our exploration of Meteora was filled with hiking (with kids in carriers), awe-inspiring vistas and plenty of marvelling at feats of ancient engineering. We also stuffed ourselves as full as possible with delicious Greek food.
We stuck to hiking, but there are dozens of climbing routes and a Via Ferrata on offer for seasoned climbers and those with older kids.
The six monasteries are all worth a stop. You can make shorter or longer hikes out of visits by walking to/from the sites instead of hiring transport. The main attractions are Great Meteoron, Varlaam Monastery, Roussanou, Holy Trinity Monastery, St. Nikolaos Anapafsas Monastery and St. Stephen’s Monastery.
Our favourite ended up being totally off-the-beaten-path Agion Pnevma, which required some tricky footwork and the help of ropes and cables. The views from the top, and stumbling upon an ancient place of worship cleft into rock face was absolutely worth it.